5 Bad Coding and Billing Habits You Need to Break– Right Now!

You’re losing lots of money on your practice and you don’t even know it.

How could you not be aware of thousands of dollars being lost, you say? Surely that kind of money can’t just disappear without you knowing.

The answer: bad habits. Bad coding and billing habits to be exact. A lot of physical therapists fall victim to these habits without their knowledge, and it’s not totally their fault. Most of them have been misinformed or got used to a certain system that they didn’t know has long been outdated.

It’s time to break those bad habits and get your practice the profits it deserves!

Habit 1: Forgetting Assessment and Management Time

There are several components that make up your service time: patient assessment and preparation (Pre-Time), performing the procedure (Intra-Time), and lastly, documentation and discharge (Post-Time). One financially deadly habit that PTs make is forgetting to include all of these components into their assessment and management time. Usually they’ll just include the time it took to perform the procedure, and that’s that. This basically eliminates the assessment and documentation done before and after the procedure respectively, both of which you have to be compensated for.

Habit 2: Miscalculating Intra-Time

Aside from forgetting to consider assessment and management time before and after the actual procedure, some therapists can also get their Intra-Time wrong, which leads to even more losses. Remember that Intra-Time includes all your one-on-one assessment and management time, from the moment you ask the patient how they have been since their last visit. Basically, it starts the moment you professionally interact with the patient or the patient’s caregiver. Intra-Time also includes:

  • The time you spend on the phone with the patient’s referring physician while still with the patient, and
  • Any time spent in documentation while still with the patient. If you want to maximize Intra-Time, do your notes during the appointment, as any done outside it will not be counted as billable.

Habit 3: Using In and Out Time

Documenting “In and Out” time was a requirement– once upon a time (before 2007 to be exact). Today, only a few non-Medicare payers will still ask for this. The only time requirement now is the start time of the appointment. So don’t indicate “In and Out” time for every payer and visit unless necessary, otherwise you’d just be welcoming auditors to scrutinize this against your scheduling program.

Habit 4: Using TherEx for All Exercise Interventions

Some PTs have the tendency to use the classification TherEx (Therapeutic Exercise) for all interventions as long as it involves exercise, when in fact these interventions can be correctly classified as something else. Using exercise equipment or doing large body movements for instance, actually classifies as TherAct (Therapeutic Activity) and not exercise. Movement education, guided movement interventions or simply giving patient feedback during movement activities are more correctly classified as Neuro Re-ed.

It’s important from a financial standpoint to classify these types of interventions more accurately, as others, such as TherAct, actually have a higher payment. Using one code in most or all of these interventions may also be a red flag to payers and make you more susceptible to payer reviews.

Habit 5: Counting Time for Each Intervention

It seems logical to count and document time spent on each individual intervention, but this can just be troublesome in several ways:

  • Systems can automatically classify these as “TherEx” when they should be otherwise;
  • It causes the therapist to undercount or round down the assessment and management minutes, which basically equates to loss of profit; and
  • Giving exact number of minutes per intervention (when not necessary) opens you up again to more scrutiny during an audit.

Apart from these, painstakingly breaking up the exercise regimen to count and document minutes for each intervention is simply bothersome to the therapist. Wouldn’t you agree?

It’s not too late to break these bad habits and start some good ones, like partnering with a reliable medical billing company to help you maximize your practice profits. Interested in making that smart move? Get in touch with Park Medical Billing today.

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